WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY'S OFFICE OF PERSONAL AND CAREER DEVELOPMENT: Educating the Whole Person

By Chan, Andy; Svete, Lee et al. | Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, Summer 2018 | Go to article overview

WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY'S OFFICE OF PERSONAL AND CAREER DEVELOPMENT: Educating the Whole Person


Chan, Andy, Svete, Lee, Sullivan, Patrick, Robinson, Heidi, Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


Wake Forest University is a private, liberal arts university with a highly regarded business school located in the southeast United States that enrolls approximately 5,000 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The Office of Personal and Career Development (OPCD) was conceived in 2010 and launched publicly in 2012. There are more than 30 full-time, part-time, and student staff members who support 4,600 undergraduate students and almost 700 graduate students in the college in collaboration with more than 15 staffers in the School of Business who support 520 undergraduates and upwards of 675 graduate students, as well as alumni who seek career development support. The University hosts a student body that is national in scope, both with regard to their place of residence prior to college and in terms of their first destination postcollege. A large majority of students are in the 18- to 22-year old age group, and most students complete their education in four years.

The institution is guided by a strategic plan, in which the following strategic imperative is articulated, "We will also build strong professional networks for our students, enhancing our service to them in regard to vocational discernment and career development" (strategicplan.wfu.edu/ strategic.plan.summary.html). The same strategic plan articulates the need to "educate the whole person." In both cases, the OPCD vision to "transform the college-to-career experience for every student" and mission to "equip every student to flourish in work and in life" align with and are designed to support and advance the institution's strategic goals.

At Wake Forest, our goal is to go beyond a four-year plan of executing personal and career development to a forty-year commitment to life, success and fulfillment in the world of work. To support this goal, the OPCD has a strong organization in place to serve the needs of Wake Forest students. See the organizational chart highlighting the OPCD organization (Appendix). Consistent with many peer institutions, the University offers one-on-one career coaching, walkin meetings with coaches and paraprofessionals, on-campus recruiting, and a variety of opportunities to engage with the world of work - through career treks, career fairs, site visits, information sessions, and more. Relationships with employers are developed and cultivated through a single Employer Relations unit that serves the entire campus - partnering with both the College and the School of Business, and addressing the needs of both undergraduate and graduate students. This single point of contact for employers has been praised by many NACE leaders from peer institutions and college recruiters because it creates a more efficient, well-coordinated interaction for employers who choose to look to Wake Forest for talented, hard-working new employees.

Recently, the OPCD established an Alumni Personal and Career Development Center. The Alumni Personal and Career Development (APCD) Center's mission is "to educate Wake Forest alumni on how to successfully navigate their personal and professional lives after college." To support this mission, the Center offers career coaching, online career resources, small group sessions, both on-campus and in cities with significant alumni populations. In addition, the APCD recently published a book, "Five for Your First Five," (2017) which emphasizes areas in which recent alumni can focus their efforts to build a successful career and life. Building on her work leading the OPCD's Mentoring Resource Center at Wake Forest, the author of the book highlights the value of mentoring relationships as a core element of building community and ensuring reflection.

Unique Elements

Distinguishing the OPCD from some peer programs are programs and initiatives that support the career development of all students. The Wake Forest model includes credit-bearing college to career classes, a commitment to experiential learning, cross-campus partnerships, senior administrative support, and a focus on technological innovation. …

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